拍案惊奇之香港两大意外 / Two Surprising Things About Hong Kong

拍案惊奇之香港两大意外

这么多年我一直喜欢住在香港,原因之一就是香港和香港人敢于并乐于接受变化,具备超强的接受能力。此外,香港也是一个意外连连、兼容并蓄、自相矛盾的地方,从来都不会让人感到沉闷。

事实上,香港40%的领土都被郊野公园所占据,这些公园对长年拥挤在铜锣湾和旺角街头的市民魅惑至深。代表香港形象的一般都是它的水泥森林,绝不可能是野生植物密布的丛林。

但这恰巧是香港的一大出人意料之处:香港的陆地面积为1,092平方公里,其中受法律保护不得用于开发的郊野公园就占到440平方公里。新界东北岸等地现在仍是一派杳无人烟的天然美景。

从很大程度上来说,我们应该感谢执政时间最长(1971-1982)的港督——已故的麦理浩爵士,正是他积极倡导保护郊野公园,并于1976年最终促成了《郊野公园条例》(Country Parks Ordinance)的通过。在担任第25任港督期间,麦理浩的历史性功绩还包括于1974年成立了廉政公署(the Independent Commission Against Corruption)、确认中文作为香港的第二工作语言、修建地铁、将农村改建为沙田、屯门等新城,以及兴建重大基础设施等。当年,成立廉署和保护郊野公园都遭到既得利益者的强烈反对,但最终二者都成为香港特有的重要标志。

香港第二个可能会令读者感到意外的是:根据《南华早报》(the South China Morning Post)及其他媒体近期的新闻标题显示,《福利机关称香港五分之一的人口生活在贫困线以下》(1 in 5 Live Below Poverty Line, Welfare Body Says.)。

这又和大家概念中的香港形象——豪华跑车及游艇、数不尽的奢侈品牌、天价海景房等——大相径庭。

作为多家关注贫困与弱势群体的非政府及志愿组织的代表,香港社会服务联会(the Hong Kong Council of Social Service)报告说香港特别行政区有18%的人收入只有中等收入的一半。以三口之家为例,月入仅为7,000港元。

在元朗、葵涌、深水埗等地区,生活在贫困线以下的人口超过20%。香港社会服务联会的报告还详细披露了针对贫困、年长、残疾及精神障碍人士的医疗及其他服务匮乏的状况。

根据香港特区政府新闻处(the Information Services Department)发表的《香港年报2010》(Hong Kong 2010),香港 2010年的就业人口为349.2万,月工资中间值为11,000港元。

月收入低于6,000港元的人数为585,400人,占总数的16.7%。

相比之下,2005年的月收入中间值为10,000港元,意味着五年间工资仅增长了10%;但同期港元兑人民币的汇率却直线下跌,导致食品及其他产品都要依赖于大陆进口的香港消费购买力严重受挫。

或许上面的故事可以套用俗语“人不可貌相”来概括,换句话说,就是“城市不可凭CBD来衡量”。

Two Surprising Things About Hong Kong

One reason I have enjoyed living in Hong Kong all these years is that the place and its people have a great capacity for embracing change with gusto and enthusiasm. It is also a place full of surprises, juxtapositions, and paradoxes. Never a dull moment.

The fact that 40% of Hong Kong’s area is devoted to country parks never ceases to amaze people who have mainly walked the crowded streets of Causeway Bay or Mongkok. The usual image of Hong Kong is densely packed concrete jungles rather than jungles of the wild green variety.

That’s surprise number one: that country parks, protected by law from development, occupy 440 sq. km. of Hong Kong’s 1092 sq. km land area. Parts of the landscape, such as the Northeast New Territories, are still wild, beautiful, and basically uninhabited.

In large measure, we can thank Hong Kong’s longest serving British Governor (1971-1982), the late Sir Murray Maclehose, for leading the effort to protect these country parks , culminating in the Country Parks Ordinance being passed in 1976. Other historic achievements during Maclehose’s term as the 25th governor of Hong Kong were the formation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 1974, the formal recognition of Chinese as the second official language of Hong Kong, construction of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), transforming rural agricultural villages into new towns like Shatin and Tun Mun, and other major infrastructure works. Formation of the ICAC and protection of country parks faced tremendous opposition at the time from vested interests, and both have defined important hallmarks of what makes Hong Kong unique.

The second thing which might surprise readers about Hong Kong was reflected in a recent newspaper headline in the South China Morning Post and other media in Hong Kong: “1 in 5 Live Below Poverty Line, Welfare Body Says.”

Here again there is a stark contrast with the usual images people associate with Hong Kong: fancy cars and yachts, luxury brands in abundance, super expensive seaview apartments, etc.

The story is that according to the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), which represents many NGOs and voluntary organizations dealing with less affluent and disadvantaged members of Hong Kong society, 18 percent of the SAR’s population earned only half the median income. The example cited was a family of three earning just HK$7,000 per month.

In some districts such as Yuen Long, Kwun Tong and Sham Shui Po, the percentage of people living below the poverty line is in excess of 20%. The HKCSS report went on to detail shortfalls in health care and other services for poor, elderly, disabled and mentally handicapped people.

According to the annual yearbook “Hong Kong 2010” published by the Information Services Department of the HKSAR Government, the median monthly employment earnings in 2010 of Hong Kong’s 3.492 million employed persons was HK$11,000.

Those earning less than HK$6,000 per month number 585,400, or 16.7% of the total.

By comparison, the median monthly employment earnings in 2005 was HK$10,000. In effect that means that over that five year period there was only a 10% increase, coupled with a relatively steep decline in the Hong Kong dollar’s value against the RMB, which affects Hong Kong consumers purchasing power dramatically due to the SAR’s reliance on imported food and other products from the mainland.

Perhaps the moral of the story is a corollary to the adage “Never judge a book by its cover.” In this case, the appropriate message would be “Never judge a city by its CBD.”


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